Homily July 7th, 2023

Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time – Mt 9:9-13

            In today’s Gospel we heard the calling of Saint Matthew, and the passage gives us an excellent opportunity to reflect on our own vocations in three ways: first, the time at which Christ calls, second, our sinfulness, and third, our obligation to spread the Good News.

            Regarding the first, Saint John Chrysostom asks why Jesus didn’t call Matthew when He called Peter, John, and all the rest. He answers by saying that Christ called His Apostles, just as He calls each of us, when they were ready. He knew when Matthew’s heart would be open, and that’s the moment He called. For each of us, that call might have come sooner or later in life, but in the end, what matters is God’s loving providence, in which nothing is early, nothing is late, but everything is exactly on time. Our call came when and how God knew we would answer, and so it matters not whether that was earlier or later than others. It’s a gift no matter how or when it came.

            Regarding the second, we should recall that in Jesus’ day, tax collectors often charged much more than they should have, and were agents of the Romans, the conquerors and oppressors of the Jewish people. Matthew was hated by his fellow Jews and regarded as a sinner, and yet Christ nonetheless calls him to a new life as an apostle. Matthew captures this beautifully when he writes, “And he got up”: in Greek, the word is ἀνίστημι (an-is’-tay-mee), which also means “to rise from the dead.” In our lives, too, God calls us from the midst of a sinful world, and in spite of our many sins, to rise up from those sins and failings to follow Him with our whole hearts. As religious, we are sinners called from among sinners, to minister to and intercede for sinners.

            Thirdly, and related to this, we can consider that our vocations are not simply for ourselves, but rather for the good of our families, the Church, and the world. Luke tells us that Matthew threw a feast at his own house, and we can imagine the surprise of his friends, his fellow tax-collectors, when they heard that the well-known rabbi would come and dine with them. Had it been anyone but Matthew, the tax collectors either wouldn’t have been invited, or wouldn’t have believed the invitation. Like evangelizes like, and so Christ used Matthew, as He wants to use us, to draw sinners closer to Himself. In fact, Saint Thomas Aquinas says that we show that we have really converted to God when we invite others to draw near to Him, when we bring others to Christ.

            Pope Saint John Paul II said that “a religious vocation is a gift, freely given and freely accepted. It is a profound expression of God’s love towards us that requires a total love towards Christ on our part.” In the end, every vocation is an unrepeatable act of the love of God, “a story of unique and unrepeatable love.”[1] This is true of Matthew’s vocation, and also of our own. Today, then, as we celebrate the calling of Matthew, let us pray, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, for the grace to follow Christ our Lord all the days of our lives, and to be thankful for the gifts of His love.


[1] Quotes from Saint John Paul II.

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